"Steve Jobs was a visionary, a brilliant innovator who reshaped entire industries by the force of his will, a genius at giving consumers not only what they wanted, but what they didn't yet know they wanted.
He was also a world-class asshole."
Charlie Brooker | The most dangerous drug isn't meow meow. It isn't even alcohol ... | Comment is free | The Guardian
"It's perhaps the biggest threat to the nation's mental wellbeing, yet it's freely available on every street – for pennies. The dealers claim it expands the mind and bolsters the intellect: users experience an initial rush of emotion (often euphoria or rage), followed by what they believe is a state of enhanced awareness. Tragically this "awareness" is a delusion. As they grow increasingly detached from reality, heavy users often exhibit impaired decision-making abilities, becoming paranoid, agitated and quick to anger. In extreme cases they've even been known to form mobs and attack people. Technically it's called "a newspaper", although it's better known by one of its many "street names", such as "The Currant Bun" or "The Mail" or "The Grauniad" (see me – Ed).
In its purest form, a newspaper consists of a collection of facts which, in controlled circumstances, can actively improve knowledge. Unfortunately, facts are expensive, so to save costs and drive up sales, unscrupulous dealers often "cut" the basic contents with cheaper material, such as wild opinion, bullshit, empty hysteria, reheated press releases, advertorial padding and photographs of Lady Gaga with her bum hanging out. The hapless user has little or no concept of the toxicity of the end product: they digest the contents in good faith, only to pay the price later when they find themselves raging incoherently in pubs, or – increasingly – on internet messageboards."
"Few Anglophone intellectuals have received such posthumous acclaim as the Director of the Remarque Institute, leading contributor to the New York Review of Books, and late champion of social-democracy. Regularly compared to George Orwell, if not Isaiah Berlin, does any careful examination of his oeuvre sustain such panegyrics?"
"Out of all the languages that I never get to program in, Erlang is probably my favorite. I used it while I was working on my Ph.D., and a few times in private projects since then, but there's very little consulting work going for Erlang programmers, so it's rare for me to get to use it.
That said, when I started learning Go, Erlang was the first thing that came to mind. It's also the language mentioned in most common criticisms of Go that I encounter when I talk about my new Go Phrasebook. A common complaint is that Erlang's concurrency model is much cleaner than Go's. In this article, I'll look at both and show that it's possible to express either in terms of the other-neither language is inherently superior, but both expose different models to the programmer.
One thing that may confuse people with a theoretical computer science background is that Erlang takes some syntax from Hoare's Communicating Sequential Processes (CSP) model, but with different semantics, whereas Go takes the semantics but not the syntax. More confusingly, Erlang's semantics are fairly close to early versions of CSP, but not to later ones."
"I first came across the phrase social graph in 2007, in an essay by Brad Fitzpatrick, though I'd be curious to know if it goes back further.
The idea of representing relationships between people as networks is old, but this was the first time I had thought about treating the connections between all living people as one big object that you could manipulate with a computer.
At the time he wrote, Fitzpatrick had two points to make. The first was that it made no sense for every social website to try and recreate the same web of relationships, over and over, by making people send each other follow requests. The second was that this relationship data should not be proprietary, but a common resource that rival services could build on as a foundation.
Fitzpatrick subsequently went to work for Google, and his Utopian vision of open standards and open data became subsumed in a rivalry between Google and Facebook. Both companies now offer their version of a social graph API, and Google (which is trying to catch up) has taken up the banner of open standards and data portability.
This rivalry has brought the phrase 'social graph' into wider use. Last week Forbes even went to the extent of calling the social graph an exploitable resource comprarable to crude oil, with riches to those who figure out how to mine it and refine it.
I think this is a fascinating metaphor. If the social graph is crude oil, doesn't that make our friends and colleagues the little animals that get crushed and buried underground?"
"The ECB continues to believe that financial stability is not part of its core business. As its outgoing president, Jean-Claude Trichet, put it, the ECB has “only one needle on [its] compass, and that is inflation.” The ECB’s refusal to be a lender of last resort forced the creation of a surrogate institution, the European Financial Stability Facility. But everyone in the financial markets knows that the EFSF has insufficient firepower to undertake that task – and that it has an unworkable governance structure to boot.
Perhaps the most astonishing thing about the ECB’s monochromatic price-stability mission and utter disregard for financial stability – much less for the welfare of the workers and businesses that make up the economy – is its radical departure from the central-banking tradition. Modern central banking got its start in the collapse of the British canal boom of the early 1820’s. During the financial crisis and recession of 1825-1826, a central bank – the Bank of England – intervened in the interest of financial stability as the irrational exuberance of the boom turned into the remorseful pessimism of the bust."
This is the final (as far as I'm aware) installment in a series of articles debating about whether or not the OWS people should be forming common cause with the Tea Party with the shared goal of changing how Washington works. Follow the links at the top to read in chronological order...
Imagine you're a player with the Chicago Bears. You're on the field, about to begin a game with the Green Bay Packers. Just before kick-off, someone races onto the field screaming: "Guys, please, can't we all just get along? Enough of this fighting. Let's just shake hands and go get a beer."
"I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else's; it's always what I've already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It's only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn't turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next thing."
Aaron Swartz makes a good point about approaching the "does the Internet help?" debate from a social science perspective.
"Jon Elster has a four-phase theory of revolutions:
A hard-core of committed activists get together to do something completely crazy.
The regime cracks down, attracting people who are sympathetic to the cause to rally to the support of the crazy ones...."
"When I came across the Backblaze storage pod, I was immediately intrigued by its clever, no-frills design. But who really needs 67 terabytes (or even 135) at home?
I decided to scale their excellent design down for home use, and after a long period of experimentation, the Evercube was born.
The design is open hardware, available under a Creative Commons Attribution license. But for your convenience, I am also offering all components needed to build the Evercube as an easy to assemble Do-It-Yourself kit."
"Recently, my main competitor, Google Reader, announced plans to decommission the social features of the site and integrate them into Google+. While Google is busy refocusing on what’s important to them, many users feel left behind. My goal with NewsBlur is to make a better, complete experience for reading sites. This includes social features that make reading a social experience.
Social is a major planned feature. It’s highly prioritized right after I build two other big ticket items: mobile and search. The mobile iPhone app is wrapping up and is already at version 1.1 on the App Store, although I have not publicly launched it because it still needs a few more features (specifically, training and the river of news) to be considered feature-complete.
Once that’s out the door, I have to build search to be able to support social. Search won’t be impossible, since the UI design decisions are fairly straight-foward, and the backend is a no-brainer in terms of design. But it’ll take some time to get right, make fast, and get integrated into the massive database that is quickly accumulating."
"While Fraser stepped down over a specific objection to force being used to evict protesters from the 200 or so tents that have been set up close to the cathedral, Knowles resigned amid a general sense that the St Paul's hierarchy had dithered. This was particularly the case over the week-long closure of the cathedral, the first since the second world war, because of apparent health and safety issues which were never fully explained.
"The past fortnight has been a testing time for the chapter and for me personally," Knowles said in a statement.
"It has become increasingly clear to me that, as criticism of the cathedral has mounted in the press, media and in public opinion, my position as dean of St Paul's was becoming untenable. In order to give the opportunity for a fresh approach to the complex and vital questions facing St Paul's, I have thought it best to stand down as dean, to allow new leadership to be exercised."
Knowles's decision prompted a first intervention in the crisis by the archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, who appeared to tacitly acknowledge that closing the cathedral was a mistake. He said: "The events of the last couple of weeks have shown very clearly how decisions made in good faith by good people under unusual pressure can have utterly unforeseen and unwelcome consequences."